The sentencing of Catalan writers and civil society leaders Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart to nine years in prison is a shocking outcome and must be overturned, PEN International and PEN Català said today.
Yesterday, Spain’s Supreme Court found Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart guilty of sedition through participation in Catalonia’s independence referendum held on 1 October 2017. They were acquitted of a more serious charge of rebellion, for which they were facing up to 17 years in prison.
‘We strongly condemn the lengthy prison sentence handed down to Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and urge the Spanish authorities to release them immediately. They have already spent two years behind bars. This outrageous ordeal must end once and for all, said Salil Tripathi, Chair of PEN International’s Writers in Prison Committee.
Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart were taken into custody on 16 October 2017 on charges of sedition, and subsequently charged with rebellion in March 2018. They were amongst 12 Catalan politicians and activists who stood trial over their participation in the independence referendum. Oral proceedings opened on 12 February 2019 and lasted over four months. All asked for their acquittal, claiming that their actions were based on civil disobedience and the exercise of fundamental rights.
In May 2019, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention condemned the detention of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart. It called on the Spanish authorities to release them immediately and to accord them an enforceable right to compensation and other reparations.
‘As we have said time and again, sedition charges against Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart are clearly excessive. We demand that both writers be urgently released and that the verdict be overturned. No one should be jailed for peacefully expressing themselves’, added PEN Català.
Jordi Sànchez, 55, is the former president of the Catalan National Assembly. As former director of the Jaume Bofill Foundation, he co-authored several reports on social equality, migration, public policy and education, democratic values and civil society participation, as well as a range of academic papers. Jordi Cuixart, 44, is the president of Òmnium Cultural and a member of PEN Català. He is the author of a book of poems entitled El plaer dels plaers, published in 2007. Sànchez and Cuixart both contributed to the 2018 book Per la llibertat and have written numerous press articles while in detention. They continue to be held in Lledoners prison, near Barcelona.
For more information about PEN International’s work on Spain, including on the state of freedom of expression in the country and PEN’s campaign on behalf of Jordi Sànchez and Jordi Cuixart, please click here.
For further details contact PEN International at PEN International, Koops Mill, 162-164 Abbey Street, London, SE1 2AN, UK Tel: +44 (0) 20 7405 0338 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org